Hi friends and family, we hope you are all doing well and staying busy. We are happy to have been able to take some time to update you on what’s going on with us here in Spain. Let’s start with the preaching work. Since Spring is here the weather is drastically improving here in Bilbao from the cold and wet winter that we had in January and February. This is welcome news for the ministry! Many of the people that we contact in the territory are usually out and about or just relaxing in the different outdoor areas throughout the city. So now that the weather is better the plazas and parks have been full of people for us to talk to. The better weather also makes it easier for our studies to attend the meetings which has been nice! Let us share a few nice experiences that we’ve had. Last summer we gave our “card” to an interested person in the territory. This was a card that we had designed ourselves basically stating that we offer free home Bible studies with our contact information. This was before the cards from the organization became available. Anyways we didn’t hear from the man that took our card whose name is Kevin. Several months passed until one day in April when I received a text message from an unknown number. After asking some questions I learned that it was Kevin and he wanted to study the Bible. Surprised but pleased we made arrangements and he said that he would like to study three times a week. After our first study I learned more about him and his background. He is from Equatorial Guinea and he has been living in Spain for eight years with his mother and siblings. He teaches Spanish and his aunt learned the truth here in Spain. I asked him why so much time went by before he contacted me and he told me that he didn’t have any time when we first contacted him but that now he is available. This just goes to show that you never know how people in the territory may respond to our message even if it is at a time that we least expect.
Recently our congregation received approval from the Branch to preach to additional language groups. What does this mean exactly? Well, this means that these additional language groups now fall under the umbrella of our English congregation. So we have begun to request and use literature for these additional languages and the congregation is excited about this new avenue of service. The additional language groups are Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Tagalog and Nepali. Many of these language speakers can be found throughout the city working in fruit shops, as caretakers, nannys or in Kebab restaurants. In our experience many of these ones have a mild disposition and are happy to see that we have taken an interest in their language. We have already had some nice experiences and no doubt this will increase as time goes on.
Another avenue of witnessing that has started here in Bilbao is Port Witnessing. This is something that is organized by the Branch. Witnessing at the ports has proved successful in many areas in Spain such as Barcelona and other major ports in the south. The reason that this work is so important is because many of the crew on these ships are away from home for up to eight months out of the year. So you can imagine that it would be a challenge for them to receive a proper witness in their home country. In addition to that, many of the workers come from countries where our work is limited or not permitted. In this provision we see strong evidence of Jehovah’s love for people of all sorts. Some of the boats that have arrived in Bilbao are large cruise ships with over one thousand crew members. The ones participating in this work have been able to use the carts in order to transport literature as well as give a broader witness to passerby. With Jehovah’s blessing we hope that this will prove to be a fruitful form of witnessing throughout the summer.
We’d like to share some positive updates that have taken place in our congregation. We recently had our Circuit Overseer visit and it was an encouraging time as always. After the visit the appointment of two new ministerial servants and one elder was announced. This was wonderful news and we can clearly see Jehovah’s blessing on the hall as it continues to flourish and demonstrate a wonderful spirit. Oh by the way, the appointment of the elder was me. 🙂 We can truly say that the congregation has transformed since we arrived in January of 2014. We have seen the servant body grow from one minsterial servant and three elders to currently eight minsterial servants and four elders. We have also gained a new pioneer couple who were serving in Seville for a few years. So as it stands we currently have thirteen regular pioneers and two special pioneers. It is also safe to say that the pioneer spirit is definitley present in our hall reflecting on the amount of auxiliar pioneers that we had during the memorial season!
Perhaps you may remember from previous posts our taking up the challenge of the accelerated Bible reading schedule. We got the idea from another blog where it outlines how to read the Bible in five months. Well we started in late January and we have thus far completed the Christian Greek Scriptures. We have been relaxing our schedule lately due to other responsibilites but we have still been able to be consistent. Hopefully it won’t take us too long to finish the Hebrew Scriptures. It has been very enjoyable to be able to go through the revised edition of the NWT together as a family. During April there was an American family from Cleveland that came to Bilbao for vacation. There were six of them in total and they were able to attend one of our meetings. We were able to take the opportunity to spend some time together with them after the meeting and the following day. It was nice to be able to show visitors around and to see what they thought of Spain and also to hear about how things are going back home. The family were all regular pioneers and they support an ASL congregation in Cleveland, OH. It was especially nice for us to be able to converse with ones from back home freely with no language or understanding barrier. Since we haven’t been able to visit the US as of yet this was kind of like Jehovah allowing us to experience a taste of home even if only for a short while. Nevertheless, we shall see what the rest of the year holds in store…
For the past couple of months we have been trying to plan a day trip to one of the outlying fishing villages. This can at times be a challenge because of the weather, busy schedules and congregation responsibilities. However, things recently lined up and we were able to take our trip. We decided to visit Leiketio which is about an hour away from Bilbao. It is a small fishing village which has beautiful views, charming architecture and even an island that you can walk to during low tide. Kanicia and I really enjoyed the trip after being so busy with work and the congregation the past few months. Sometimes when you are in an assignment its nice to be able to take time to enjoy yourself and your surroundings. Latley we’ve been able to do that more and more as the weather starts to get better and there are more fun activities taking place in the city.
One such activity that was recently held was a Bible character themed party. This took place in Durango which is an outlying town about thirty minutes from Bilbao. We were really looking foward to the gathering because we knew that it would be a nice time to socialize in a relaxed atmosphere with our brothers and sisters and it would also provide something fun for the many children in the hall to do. Since it was a character party my wife and I decided to dress up as Noah and his wife. We bought a beard from the local costume shop and a sister at the party was able to provide the outfits for everyone. Beforehand we studied up on Noah and his family so that we could carry out a ‘reenactment’ of sorts. During our renactment we posed as a resurrected Noah and his wife in the new system. We told the survivors of what our life was like during pre-flood times and we asked questions about what life was like before the outbreak of the Great Tribulation. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to take some time to imagine things that will happen in the near future. Many of the children also chose a Bible character and all in attendance took turns guessing which character they were. We also had some dancing and a lot of food and it seemed that everyone left happy and full.
Overall these last couple of months have been full of activity and many wonderful developments. We are very happy to be busy with theocratic things as well as enjoying the worldwide brotherhood. We look forward to the summer months as there is much activity planned and we hope as always to be able to share it with all of you! Until next time…